In spite of freezing temperatures, the 10 horse Johnson outboard kicked off on the second pull. While the motor warmed up, I put the bird banding supply box in the aluminum Jon boat along with a pair of binoculars and a boat paddle. I pulled away from the dock and unscrewed the drain plug so the rainwater in the boat can drain once underway. Twisting the grip to full-throttle, I fly up Wapanocca Bayou flat out, breaking the thin sheet ice in front of me.
The drive to refuge headquarters on the low-tide beach had been a pleasant one. After making a turn into the dunes on our entrance “road” into headquarters, I paused at the crest to enjoy the view. The vast Atlantic stretched to the Eastern horizon. Westward lay Back Bay Wildlife Refuge’s op…
Gale force winds are common in coastal areas, so when the winds picked up that afternoon, and continued all night, I didn’t think it all that much out of the ordinary. Just another northeaster, even if it was a strong one.
Whenever Back Bay froze over, heavy winds or a thaw usually broke up the ice within a week or two. This freeze, however, turned out to be more tenacious. It had lasted almost a month, and waterfowl were dying of starvation in substantial numbers.